Will Apple Launch Its Own ‘Google Glass’?

Google Glass 2

Google Glass failed. Astro Teller, head of the secretive Google X division that produced the augmented-reality device, told the audience at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, that a tidal wave of negative publicity had doomed the project from nearly the get-go.

“We allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the program,” he said. That public scrutiny interfered with Google’s attempts to refine and iterate on what was clearly an unfinished product.

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But the crash-and-burn of Google Glass hasn’t prevented other tech giants from exploring the space. According to a new research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Apple has a small in-house team devoted to augmented reality technology. (Hat tip to Apple-centric blog Apple Insider for summarizing Munster’s report.)

Apple already holds various patents related to transparent displays that can overlay information and graphics on the surrounding environment. And while Munster seems unclear on the exact form Apple’s augmented-reality device could eventually take, it’s safe to assume that, unlike the early version of Google Glass, aesthetics will be a prime concern. Munster’s report must also be taken with the proverbial grain of salt; he’s predicted for years that Apple will produce a television set, for example, which the company hasn’t yet done.

If Apple does eventually release a headset of some sort, it will likely find itself competing against an updated version of Glass (this one overseen by Tony Fadell, CEO of Google subsidiary Nest) as well as Microsoft’s HoloLens. But can this second generation of devices succeed where the first failed?

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